Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Goal 6 aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Water and sanitation are critical to the health of people and the planet. Goal 6 not only addresses the issues relating to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), but also the quality and sustainability of water resources worldwide. Improvements in drinking water, sanitation and hygiene are essential for progress in other areas of development too, such as nutrition, education, health and gender equality.

Millions of people die every year from diseases associated with unsafe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. Young children are particularly vulnerable – WASH-related diseases remain among the leading causes of death in children under 5, and they contribute to malnutrition and stunting. Each year, 300,000 children under 5 die due to diarrhoea linked to inadequate WASH. Despite significant progress, 2.2 billion people worldwide do not have safely managed drinking water services. Over half the global population, 4.2 billion people, lack safely managed sanitation services.

UNICEF’s contribution towards reaching this goal centres on bringing safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services to homes, schools and health centres so that children can grow and learn in a safe environment. UNICEF is
co-custodian for global monitoring of three indicators that measure progress towards Goal 6: Indicator 6.1.1 Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services; Indicator 6.2.1a Proportion of population using safely managed sanitation services; and Indicator 6.2.1b Proportion of population with a hand-washing facility with soap and water available at home.

Child-related SDG indicators

TARGET 6.1 By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all

TARGET 6.2 By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations

Key asks

To achieve SDG 6, governments must invest in their communities and bridge the economic and geographic divides to deliver the human rights to safe water, sanitation and hygiene. UNICEF has four key asks that encourage governments to:

  1. Reaffirm their commitment to improve access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene services.
  2. Strengthen partnerships with the national statistics offices towards the collection, analysis and use of disaggregated data and routinely measure progress towards equitable access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene.
  3. Report progress on national action.
  4. Ensure the continuity and quality of WASH services during the COVID-19 crisis and sustain affordable access to WASH products and services for the poorest and most vulnerable populations.

Learn more about UNICEF’s key asks for implementing Goal 6